Mother tells a story
Many people think it is safe to use gasoline to help ignite a fire. It is hard to find out first hand just how dangerous it can be.
On June 5, while preparing for a large bonfire in the back of our house, we found out just how dangerous mixing fire and gasoline can be. After throwing a few more pieces of wood on the pile, my husband Joe put gasoline on the woodpile. Our twelve-year-old Mathew, within minutes of the gasoline being poured, reached down and lit the wood with a long butane style lighter.
Instantly, Mathew was covered with flames as the fumes from the gasoline ignited.
It was any parent’s worst nightmare. Within minutes the Sevier County Ambulance Service and the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department arrived to transport Mathew to Children’s Hospital, as my child lay on a stretcher in the most pain he has ever experienced in his life, a pain I would have gladly traded with him in an instant.
After three nights and four days at Children’s Hospital, and injections of morphine every four hours to control the pain, Mathew was ready to go home. Almost two weeks later there is very little to show of the first- and second-degree burns he experienced on his face, arms, hand and legs.
An antibiotic crème had to be applied two to three times a day for most of the two weeks, both to keep the chance of infection away and to soften the skin to help it heal.
Towards the end, that was the most irritating part for Mathew which was nothing compared to the pain and discomfort that he originally felt.
According to Kidde Safety, Per capita, the U.S. has one of the highest fire death rates in the industrialized world. Residential fires claim the lives of 3,600 people each year and injure 18,500 more. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated in 1999 that someone dies in a fire every 2 1/2 hours, with children younger than five at greatest risk.
According to the Naval Safety Center, in 1998, 4,700 gasoline fires in U.S. homes killed 86 people, injured 463 others, and damaged $92 million worth of property.
Among the causes of these fires were spilling fuel, using gasoline to wash auto parts or to clean something, storing gasoline too close to a source of heat, allowing kids to play with gas, and using it to start a grill or bonfire.
We were lucky. Mathew will heal completely and since the burns were first- and second-degree, there should be no scarring. Others however will not be so lucky. Take the precautions you need to now. Tell a friend or family member about this story and the dangers of mixing gasoline with fire. Don’t let what happened to our family, happen to yours.